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Saturday, March 12, 2011

SMART Reading Assessment Activities

For Hunger Game readers still seeking more
dystopian sci-fi, check out the recommendations
at the end of this post.
In addition to the comments I receive here at How to Teach a Novel, I also receive many emails seeking practical, how-to advice on how to authentically assess student learning, while effectively managing student assignments.

One terrific resource I've found is this list of  SMART Free Reading Activities compiled by Jeremy Glazer. Jeremy has devised not only a list of activities, but also a scoring plan that motivates students to attempt more challenging assignments. I've uploaded the activities in both Word doc and pdf format (scroll to bottom of the page at this link) to my Teaching Reading and Language Arts wiki so that you can easily modify the plan Jeremy created. If you're anything like me, you need to personally tweak even the best ideas to make them your own.

In speaking about the plan, Jeremy says:

This assignment becomes as much about learning to pace yourself as anything else. Students often struggle the first few marking periods because they put things off, but ultimately they learn to plan ahead, particularly if you are consistent. I was very, very strict about only accepting one assignment per week. Students often begged for mercy because of one disaster or another, but I would gently explain to them that this assignment was about an accumulation and no one week mattered that much.  If they waited until the end and then had computer problems, etc., then there was a lesson to be learned about waiting until the end.

I would, however, make copies of a chart for them to keep in their folders when I passed the work back each week (that's the other part of it - you have to stay on top of the grading if you expect them to stay on top of their progress) so they could record their status. Grading was pretty minimal, though. I would make copies of the rubric on 1/4 sheet of paper strips, circle one of the numbers, write a one sentence comment and then staple that on to their assignment and hand it back. It "only" took a few hours per week.  

Jeremy Glazer presently works in The Good Government Initiative, a program to train elected officials, and intermittently teaches as an adjunct at a community college. If you dig these activities, or have additional questions, drop Jeremy a line.

About The Maze Runner: A couple of teachers have emailed me and asked what I recommend for students who have plowed through The Hunger Games Trilogy and are still hot for more science fiction. I recommend The Maze Runner trilogy (The Scorch Trials is book two in the trilogy), Incarceron(Sapphique picks up where this book leaves off), and Leviathan (followed up with Behemoth).

Until Hunger Games I'll admit I wasn't a fan of series, but I love how these dystopian books get kids hooked on reading. I'm totally open for other reading suggestions as well!


Anonymous said...

Keith: New follower here. I have middle schoolers and I think this blog will come in handy. I found you at bookblog.ning

You can find me here: I'm 12 away from 100 followers, if you're so inclined.

Keith Schoch said...

Thanks for the follow, Bookbelle!

I, too, am a middle school teacher, and still an elementary teacher at heart! Feel free to share your thoughts any time!

Anonymous said...

Hi Keith,
I teach high school English and my sophomores asked if we could read The Maze Runner this year. (We are.) Last year they wanted to read Divergent the first book in another great dystopian trilogy. Neither of these were on our approved list, but because students were so interested in them, I did the paperwork for approval and found copies of the novels for them. Of course, that also meant creating the curriculum to go with those novels. Thank you for all the creative ideas you've posted on your blog. It really helps those of us who have the desire, but not always the time, to create new, engaging lessons.
Ms. L

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